Friday, January 25, 2008

Wimsey's Blog:Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 51
January 25th, 2008

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here, coming to you from the Upper West Side of Manhattan or Show Hound HQ as it has recently become. My humans’ pesky birthdays are finally out of the way and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth are once again focusing their energies on the monumental task of preparing me for Westminster. As part of all of this, I have just been talking with my good friend Julia Szabo who writes a column for the New York Post and blogs for Now although Julia rescues dogs (she currently has six) she is kind enough to take a journalistic interest (will let you know if any articles are to appear) in my Westminster preparations (from which I might need rescuing myself)!

As an example, Elizabeth has prepared a giant Excel spreadsheet with all of our equipment and training needs and schedules logged in with military precisions (as in Westminster T-minus 18 days, 18:00 hours, begin fading cavalettis; introduce liver bait; place Cherrybrook order). Given her interest in military history I am worried that we will be invading a small country rather than going to Westminster.

Wimsey: Commando Hound

Commando Wimsey: OK Squad. Listen up. Today at 0600 we are going to invade a hapless country. Bear in mind that the primitive humans we will encounter have never seen a Hound.

Hound Sergeant: Why that’s shocking! You mean they get to eat all their own food, sleep alone in their beds, go to the bathroom by themselves and take four hour walks alone???? And what do they do for drool? And who teaches them not to get too attached to material objects and who does the landscaping?

Commando Wimsey: Well, as I said they are primitive. Now listen, the operation calls for extreme stealth—so there will be absolutely no baying.

Hound Sergeant: No baying! But we always bay when we have triumphed! That’s like saying there will be no raising the flag at Iwo Jima. It’s what we are known for.

Commando Wimsey: We don’t want to frighten them—so no baying until Hound Air Patrol has dropped the earplugs. We must convince them that we are here to help them.

Hound Sergeant: But that’s ridiculous! Surely they won’t believe that! We are Hounds. We only help ourselves. It’s our trademark.

Commando Wimsey: Yes of course a helpful hound is a ludicrous concept, but they don’t know that. And viewed in a larger sense, we are here to help: we combat human greed, sloth, materialism, pride, etc. -- especially pride. And I agree that whilst some of our methods might not be pleasant, when they step back and look at the big picture they will thank us. So the plan is to charm, beguile and ensorcell. Charm is, after all, a force multiplier. By the time they realize what we are really up to they will be a subject people--like all the other subjects living under the Pax Houndus.

Well, anyway, when you add up all my equipment, Elizabeth’s equipment and my training schedule it is quite an undertaking. Normally I would object but since I am the focus of it all, it can really be quite pleasant. Especially now as the boiled liver is back. And whilst the liver does cause me to fly over my cavalettis in a lovely trot, it is so intoxicating that the prospect of its drool producing goodness causes me to lose sight of what I am supposed to be doing to obtain it. A two edged organ meat, if you will. I experience massive sensory overload and all my neurons act with but a single thought: LIVER! LIVER! LIVER! GIVE US THE LIVER! I can’t imagine why humans want to smoke crack cocaine or do crystal meth when there is liver to be had. I wonder if it is illegal to marry liver. Or to worship it. If I were in charge of decorating our apartment there would be paintings of liver on the walls (I wonder if Picasso ever did a painting of liver?), sculptures made of liver in the corners and all the furniture would be liver shaped. And of course the refrigerator would be stocked entirely with liver (actually these days it pretty much is).

And so powerful is the spell of the liver that frequently on my post-cavaletti evening walks I charge ahead, wholly preoccupied with liver and then it is all “Wimsey’s not listening to his prong.” Well really the reason I don’t listen to my prong is because the prong is not saying anything worth listening to. Is it saying “Run over there and say hello to that dog?” Or “Here’s a nice vertical surface on which to pee?” No. It is saying none of these things. I mean why should I listen to equipment that is saying something with which I vehemently disagree? Kind of like asking Mike Huckabee to listen intently to the speeches of Barak Obama. A nice idea but not gonna happen. Maybe some day one of my pieces of equipment will announce that it is the equipment of change and instead of telling me to slow down will tell me to go faster. Now that would be a message worth listening to! (I wonder if Barak Obama has a position on charging Hounds.)

Anyway, I have quite an exciting weekend planned-- beginning with tonight’s Wimsey Bath Night. Not only am I to be fed a great quantity of turkey while being washed, but I am also to receive a rubdown with a chamois cloth to burnish my rich coat into a glorious shine (Elizabeth read about this in some book, but I am sure the authors did not anticipate its use on a leather shredding Hound; I hear chamois can be quite tasty). In addition, I am to receive the second of my giant Christmas rawhides to keep me quiet while the ladies swill their cocktails and endeavor to recover from the maritime rigors of bathing me. I have suggested a cocktail based on pureed liver but the ladies don’t seem very keen. Clearly they have no taste

Then tomorrow we are renting a car and driving to New Jersey-- first to see our blog buddies Nanook and Pooka with whom in the way of cyber friendships we have never actually met. I am definitely looking forward to meeting canines who are even larger than I am and I expect that after seeing me in action their humans will thank their lucky stars that they have newfs and not hounds (a disobedient newf is simply not in the same class as a misbehaving hound). And then after I stick my nose into everyone’s lunch (I am hoping there might be liver on the menu) we are off to take a show handling class in Eatontown. It should be quite fascinating to be viewed by someone who actually knows what they are doing.

This time Elizabeth will be doing the driving (she of the “what exactly is the difference between north and south—is it anything to do with uptown and downtown?”) but I understand that she is wisely enlisting the help of a GPS device. Maria will be in the back seat trying to keep my head out of the rear view mirror and my body out of the front seat, as she fears I might be tempted to respond to the GPS voice commands and to assist Elizabeth with the driving. (“Do you think Wimsey will come when called if the GPS calls him?” “Can we program it to tell him to trot?”). And on Sunday, Elizabeth is planning another marathon Central Park walk so we can bond some more but really I will just bound some more. So all in all, the weekend should offer a plethora of opportunities for some stunningly unruly Hound behavior.

But before I rest up for all this merriment, let us visit the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Now today’s entry is rather special because our painting is in honor of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art which has just reopened its painting galleries. In contrast to the frenzied nature of my life lately, I have chosen a painting that depicts some humans more sensible than my own enjoying a relaxing pastime:

Boating (Edouard Manet, 1874, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Notice the beautiful intensity of the blue palette and the unusual cropping of the painting which makes it feel as if we are about to step onto the boat ourselves. And of course we notice the feeling of light and air that are the hallmarks of all impressionist paintings. But see how much more relaxing the painting appears with the insertion of an indolent Hound lolling next to the sailor. Notice the helpful paw the Hound has placed on the sailor’s knee, alerting him, no doubt, to some navigational error he is about to commit. Wimsey Boating

Well, I think that is all for this week. For those who will be in New York, I will be at Madison Square Garden on February 11th. If you want to stop by the benching area, just look for a small human wearing a “Birth of Wimsey (and Venus)” t-shirt; Elizabeth is planning on wearing this Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art shirt (that is when she is not in the ring dressed in Wimsey green showing me) while she keeps me company on the bench (Maria will be wearing black as usual). So look for humans wearing artistic t-shirts, black clothes or a Bloodhound with the #12.

Until next time,

Wimsey, “show me the liver” Show Hound

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 50
January 18, 2008

Hello everyone. It’s me Wimsey, reporting from the sadly snowless streets of New York City. Last week we were expecting a monster storm and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth were all braced for the additional hilarity that ensues when I am walked on snow. But, alas, the snow was not to be. The storm missed us, so I will have to wait yet some more until I can pit the proven prowess of the Wimsey Snow Tow against the purported traction of the Solomon Snow Clog and the Giant (ugly and expensive) Ugg boot. Anyway, I do like the way humans give storms names—I think Typhoon Wimsey has a certain ring to it, although to my knowledge we don’t get many typhoons here in Manhattan. I suppose I would have to settle for Blizzard Wimsey (or this year Snow Flurry Wimsey) which somehow doesn’t convey the same sense of drama. And as we know I am all about drama. And lately, I am proud to say, the continuing drama of my infected anal glands has engendered a cult following amongst Maria’s co-workers. Each day brings them another riveting installment:

All My Anal Glands

Vet: Nurse, look! Wimsey’s anal glands are infected!

Nurse: Will it cause him to go into a coma doctor?

Vet: I don’t think so, although the infection is being caused by an antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Nurse: Perhaps it will escape from Wimsey’s anal glands and cause a global pandemic?

Vet: Unlikely, but then Wimsey does like to spread the contents of his posterior about quite a bit.

Nurse: Nevertheless, maybe this isn’t Wimsey at all but an evil twin (or better yet—a clone!) who is bent on wreaking global havoc with his anal glands. Perhaps the real Wimsey is locked in a crate on the Upper West Side subsisting on kibble and water?

Vet: Well this animal does seem inordinately compliant, which as we know is not really Wimsey’s usual style, so he could be an imposter masquerading as Wimsey.

Nurse: How did Wimsey acquire this anal gland infection?
Vet: He doesn’t know—he has amnesia.

Nurse: That happens quite a lot. Anyway, it’s time to go commit adultery in the supply closet.

Vet: Righto.

Well, all joking aside, Maria’s colleagues do insist on updates on my anal glands, which makes me think that it is not only my humans who have too much time on their hands. And my anal glands are entertaining in other ways as well. For instance, Maria had a lot of fun the other day in the pharmacy explaining to the incredulous clerk that the prescription she had for an antibiotic eyewash was really for a dog (Maria wisely omitted to specify exactly how the product was going to be used; let’s just say my eyes were not involved). The prescription was made out with my name and her last name, which was certainly a weird sounding combination. But this is New York City where no amount of weirdness, even a person whose first name is Wimsey, causes so much as an eyelash to flutter. Anyway, I don’t see why I had to have Maria’s last name. Although we both come from old and noble families, I somehow don’t see her ancestors taking too kindly to this newest twig on their family tree (and also to the fact that with the amount of drool at my disposal I could create quite a few blots on their escutcheon). Personally I like to think of myself as being like all those important pop stars who just use the one name (although Prince sounds like even more of a dog than I do). But if I had to choose a last name, it certainly wouldn’t be Maria’s, since given the nature of our relationship, she should be using my last name. I think Wimsey Rules has a nice ring to it.

Anyway, as you may have surmised, I have been going to the vet quite a bit lately, an activity which I always enjoy—it’s another venue where I can be the focus of everyone’s attention and concern—although I do realize that liking the vet makes me a Hound of rather eccentric tastes, but this also goes along with my predilection for having my teeth brushed. Of course if you try to measure me, you will be in for some serious trouble. I never permit myself to be measured, not by ruler, tape measure or any surrogate method. This absence of quantitation makes Elizabeth crazy (“Show me the numbers!”) but I object to the idea of being reduced to mere digits. I am not “Wimsey, male bloodhound 27 inches high (aprrox.—no one really knows) 125 lbs” but Wimsey: Tall, Heavy, Loud and Insubordinate (and sporting a beautiful set of fine manly parts).

And speaking of numbers, because of all the time I have been spending at the vet’s these days I have become known as The Dog with the Golden Tush. The escalating cost of my tush is pretty impressive, I can tell you. There is talk of commissioning a painting to commemorate what is rapidly becoming the world’s most expensive hound tush. I fear that it will shortly become the most valuable thing my ladies own. (Assets: one emerald ring, two money market funds, one Manhattan co-op and Wimsey’s Tush). I hear the IRS is even investigating its tax status.

Well, in addition to all this tush worshipping my humans are spending a considerable amount of time engaged in full blown Westminster frenzy. For instance, today is actually Maria’s birthday and her festive plans include escorting me to cavaletti practice (where Elizabeth will continue on her quest to make me trot over those obnoxious poles), then some wine and pizza with Elizabeth whilst ordering a bunch of show stuff for me from Cherrybrook and finally designing a Hound Art t-shirt for Elizabeth to wear at Westminster (when she is not in the ring wearing her Wimsey-flattering green show clothes). Now Elizabeth’s birthday is on Monday and she is sneaking off to the shortest of long weekends in San Francisco so as not to miss too many days of my cavaletti practice. Her plans whilst in The City by the Bay: shopping for a green show skirt.

Anyway, the whole cavaletti thing has gotten of hand—Maria videoed Sunday’s session and Elizabeth was horrified to discover that although I look OK (when I am not throwing in a pace or two) she looks like the Leaning Tower of Groucho Marx. Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible for humans to run tilted both forward and sideways at the same time, but I guess they are more talented than I thought. She is now busy trying to correct this unfortunate posture with a series of ridiculous ballet exercises preparatory to gaiting me. So now people out for a stroll in Riverside Park are treated to the spectacle of a woman doing ballet exercises in front of a 36 foot row of white poles whilst holding a loudly baying hound. Personally, I think we are going to get arrested.

But there are some compensations for being forced to trot (I still want to be the first hound at Westminster to show completely at the pace—that eminently sensible gait where I use both legs on the same side of my body)—the ladies have read somewhere that they are supposed to make the cavalettis fun for me.

Wimsey’s Cavaletti Cavalcade of Goodies

First, there are The Squeals of Delight and lots of “Good boys” and “Look how beautiful Wimsey is!” when I trot. And I am like—“What else you got?”

So then after I complete a run Elizabeth squeals some more praise and then rubs me, scratches me and hand wrestles me—her version of trying to get me nicely riled up (a double edged sword that). And I am like—pretty good. “What else you got?”

And then Elizabeth produces something she calls a “scent item” but which is really just a rag that has spent some time marinating in her shoes and dirty laundry basket, and which she thinks might be fun for me to smell. Mostly I just want to shred it with my teeth, but it is the thought that counts. So I am like, “Nice, but what else you got?”

Then comes the pieces of turkey liberally applied to the houndly jowl—not bad, but there is talk of liver making a re-appearance next week (although Maria has some trepidation about this, having witnessed one too many bouts of Wimsey Liver Frenzy, and she fears for Elizabeth’s safety if there is to be liver involved). Then, when a sufficient number of practice runs have been completed, Maria makes her contribution to my enjoyment by inviting me to jump up on her whilst cooing saccharine phrases in my ear.

And as the cavalettis are packed up, I get to bay unrestrainedly without Maria and Elizabeth holding their ears and pleading with me to be quiet. Then we all go for a long tow in the park

Not too shabby, except that sometimes I just can’t help myself and I pace—at which point, Maria who watches from the comfort of a park bench yells “pace.” Elizabeth is supposed to stop immediately and return me to the start, but sometimes she carries on anyway, hoping I will resume a trot. Well I hope that aliens made entirely of liver invade New York City, but some things just ain’t gonna happen. There was some talk of blowing a kazoo in my ear if I pace but then it was determined that a kazoo would sound too much like the noise made by my favorite stuffed lamb and the pleasing sound would probably just induce more pacing.

(FYI: If you are in the area and want to see first hand whether any of this stuff has done the least amount of good, I will be shown at Madison Square Garden February 11th at 1:15pm in Ring Six).

So as you can see, things are pretty crazy around here, but as I am at the center of all the craziness I accept it with my usual houndly equanimity. But before I pace off to trotting practice, let us nip into the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art.

This week, we return once again to the oeuvre of Renoir for inspiration.
Two Girls at the Piano (Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1892, Metropolitan Museum of Art). In 1891 or 1892 Renoir was asked to contribute a painting to the Musee de Luxembourg—a museum that was to be devoted to living artists. Renoir elected to paint a charming scene of domesticity, but see how much more charming and domestic the scene is if the girls are accompanying the singing of their large baying hound? And see how much the Hound is enjoying the performance. Isn’t he magnificent? Wimsey and Two Girls at the Piano.

Well, time to gather my strength—I am being cavalettied tomorrow morning before Elizabeth leaves for the airport (I told you my humans were becoming fanatics—I wonder what they will find to do with their time after Westminster?)

Until next time,

Wimsey, golden tushed Westminster Hound

PS: Last night I was cavalettied in the sleet. After what I am being forced to endure, I think I deserve to be carried into the Westminster ring on a palanquin.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 49
January 11, 2008

Hello everyone. Wimsey here, and let me tell you I have witnessed the most extraordinary thing this week! In previous posts I have been complaining about those obnoxious cavalettis—the trotting poles that are supposed to help me prepare for my appearance next month at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show—well the cavalettis are breeding!!! I can’t believe it! First there were four large ones and now there are twelve smaller ones. Where did these instruments of houndly bedevilment come from if not from some infernal, dog trainer inspired cavaletti breeding program? Have you any idea what it is like to have to trot back and forth over 35 feet of cavalettis every night, while my human Maria sits there complacently with her backside neatly tucked into a park bench, judiciously observing the proceedings? All the while her over-enthusiastic friend Elizabeth runs back and forth squealing encouragement at me!? My life has taken a serious turn for the worse here. I despise trotting—it is so common compared to the majestic pace (for the uninitiated, pacing is when I move using both legs on the same side of my body) or even my hybrid gait, the “trop.” Anyway, although my humans misguidedly believe that I am not very intelligent, I have figured out a way to pace over these revolting poles. The difficulties I encounter in cavaletti pacing are so worth it when I see the looks of consternation on my humans’ faces (“Oh no! Wimsey is pacing though the cavalettis!” “How can he do that?” “It is not supposed to be possible!”). But after all, I am Wimsey the Wonder Dog: Master of Unexpected Inconvenient Behavior (“No training method is too much for me to handle... I train people and ignore their training equipment. I am… The Hound Whisperer”).

Anyway, at least now I can add pacing over cavalettis to my list of houndly accomplishments-- right up there with not coming when called and sticking my nose into people’s food and fannies. And speaking again of Westminster (which seems sadly to have taken over my human’s lives, if not mine), Elizabeth has been beetling around town like a demented leprechaun trying to find show clothes in my trademark Wimsey Green (green being my most flattering color). Other fashion ideas that were considered and fortunately rejected included an ugly gray suit with a pleated skirt (Wimsey fashion note: women’s derrieres + pleats are not a good look) and my personal favorite, a metallic gold suit (she thought it might look “festive.”) Now I suppose if the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show ever moves to Las Vegas we might be in business with that one.

Well all this Westminster activity has caused my humans to lose sight of the fact that we are in a New Year. And apart from resolutions that possibly include the acquisition of more green clothes, nothing has been done by my humans to institute a New Year’s Programme. In order to redress this shocking oversight here are my New Year’s resolutions:

Wimsey’s New Year’s Resolutions

1. Gain weight

2. Eat more fattening food

3. Do more drugs (my drugs come in rolled up pieces of turkey!)

4. Spend more money I didn't earn

5. Indulge my addictions (Greenies and stuffed toys)

6. Get more wrinkles

7. Remodel the apartment

8. Try new foods

9. Spend less time listening to people

10. Get more sleep (and enhance my timber rattling new snore)

And of course this year I truly aspire to be bred. After all, who would not want more of me? And if those cavalettis can do it…

And speaking of breeding (or related activities) I have recently become aware of a startling turn of events in world affairs:

CNN: Special Report: Crisis in France

Anderson Cooper: Good evening. I am Anderson Cooper. Here to help us understand this week’s shocking events in France, we have enlisted the aid of top French political commentator, Monsieur le Hound. Good evening Monsieur le Hound. Thank you for joining us.

Monsieur le Hound: Bonsoir Anderson. It is mon plaisir to be here.

Anderson Cooper: So what do you think about the astounding news that French President Sarkozy is carrying on with Italian pop star and model, Carla Bruni?

Monsieur le Hound: Mais… he is French.

Anderson Cooper: And how about those romantic photographs of him at the Pyramids when he was supposed to be working?

Monsieur le Hound: Mais… he is French.

Anderson Cooper: And what about the fact that he is only recently divorced from another former model?

Monsieur le Hound: Mais… he is French.

Anderson Cooper: I mean what would you think if President Bush suddenly took up with Britney Spears or something?

Monsieur le Hound: Mais.. he is not French.

Anderson Cooper: Well thank you Monsieur Le Hound for your insightful comments. Now on to our next top breaking story: Is Tom Cruise really baby Suri’s father?

Of course the other top story around here is that I have once again foiled a dastardly plot to cut my nails. Personally I have always believed that my nails are under the protection of The Guardian Nail Angel—how else to explain the fact that no matter how many different ways Maria tries to cut them (and she has been trying for three years, mind you) they remain blissfully uncut. My nails are like Samson’s hair, once they are cut I will lose all my houndly power. No amount of nail clipper wielding humans sitting on me are a match for my determination to retain my powers. Anyway, this week I had to undergo a procedure that required a touch of sedation (at the risk of being accused of TMI, it was to flush my pesky anal glands) whereupon Maria requested that once sedated my nails be clipped. I am sure she gloated for hours at the thought of finally achieving one of her major life goals. But were they cut? No. Not even the huge, talon like one on my front paw. No ones knows why they weren’t cut, but I do. It was The Nail Angel.

Maria has been flirting with the idea that I am nail retentive due to the fact that I was potty trained too early (can there be such a thing for a large breed dog?). Now I get so much exercise that most of my nails are neatly worn down so I don’t see why she insists on focusing on the ones that remain long—I occasionally find her glaring at the exceptionally long nail as if it is a personal affront. Perhaps she thinks she can lop it off by sheer force of will. And then there are the times she announces to Elizabeth with great certainty “We have to cut Wimsey’s nails.” This is right up there with “We have to train Wimsey” in the idle threat department, but I think she thinks that if she says it out loud she feels like she has accomplished something. (Elizabeth, who knows better, always answers “yes,” and then immediately trots off to do something that can actually be done).

Or perhaps Maria is engaging in what folks call “creative visualization” in which you visualize what you want to have happen in order to bring it about. (“I visualize a magic sword descending form the sky and lopping off Wimsey’s big nail”—which frankly is pretty much the only way this is going to happen. And for Elizabeth: “I visualize Wimsey trotting nicely next to me at Westminster and not baying or trying to mount the female dogs”). Could happen…in a parallel universe in which there is a well behaved Wimsey! (and not a universe I care to visit any time soon.)

Anyway, enough talk about things unattainable. We now move on to our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. This week’s piece was inspired by my human’s preoccupation with beauty (sadly not their own, but mine).

Venus at her Toilet (Diego Velazquez, 1599, National Gallery, London). Diego Velazquez was a leading painter of the Spanish golden age and this is the only surviving female nude painted by him (and in fact one of very few nudes from Spain of this era in general--the Spanish Inquisition taking a dim view of such displays of female pulchritude-- and they were a painful lot to get on the wrong side of). However, Velazquez painted his Venus when he snuck off to Italy (probably to escape painting yet another masterwork of the less than comely King Phillip IV and his lovely family, which, as the court painter, was Velazquez’ regular gig ) where he was undoubtedly inspired by the more body friendly art of the ancient world. Some people think that the painting is actually a portrait of his mistress which might explain her very modern, athletic looking physique (as Venus’ go she is pretty skinny—none of those usual rolls of oh so desirable rosy flesh here). It also might explain why Venus’ face has been deliberately painted in a hazy fashion (of course Velazquez could have been making a proto feminist statement as to which bits of the female body men really pay attention to, but I don’t think so). Anyway, since she (and we) can’t really see her face in that fuzzy mirror, the painting makes a lot more sense if our Venus is gazing lovingly into the extravagantly beautiful face of a (Westminster)Hound. Wimsey at his Toilet (of course in the modern vernacular this would be a painting of me in a Central Park bush).

Well whenever I get too full of myself, my humans remind me that “handsome is as handsome does,” which would mean that I am probably not very handsome at all. Nobody believes this of course—I am not going to Westminster so people can see how well behaved I am (I never would have gotten in!) –but it makes my humans feel better to say it anyway. Like cutting my nails.

Until next time,

Wimsey, handsome is as handsome is

Friday, January 4, 2008

Wimsey's Blog" Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #48
January 4, 2008

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here wishing you a happy houndly 2008. My year got off to a rip snorting start (literally) as I spent quite a bit of the holiday nose to the ground aerating the dirt of Central Park (I know that the Park’s fragile ecosystem would absolutely collapse without me there to fertilize and turn the soil) and meeting greeting and sliming tourists. Although I must say, drool production is very challenging in the dry frigid conditions that we have lately been experiencing. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have to suit up in what appears to be hazmet garments to take a simple walk. I of course am impervious to the frigid conditions and like to take my time as usual on our perambulations --amid the desperate pleading of my humans to hurry things along. However, I never do, as the fact that the human body has temperature control defects not present in the Hound is not really my problem.

Of course here in New York City, the fashion capital of the world, humans take an inordinate amount of pleasure in dressing up their dogs in a variety of warm weather gear (one of my favorites being the big white pit bull who sports a red wool coat with the hood fully deployed. He reminds me of a Little Red Riding Hood who would like to eat the witch. Or maybe a Smurf that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley). And this being New York, a city where everyone has an opinion and no one is afraid to share, the fact that I am not wearing a coat is cause for almost as much disapprobation as my much maligned, politically incorrect testicles. Not one of these fashion critics has given any thought to the practicality of actually wrestling my 125lb frame into one of these items or to the prevention of my ripping it off and using it for shredding practice (perhaps Maria should carry about some choice examples of the fine work I have done on her underwear) or even where one would procure a garment of the requisite size. Now while Maria handles all the “isn’t he cold?s” with a polite “he’s fine, thank you” (mainly because she knows if I weren’t fine she would hear all about it—we hounds being extremely devoted to our own personal comfort) but the ever helpful Elizabeth prefers to launch into an explanation of the heat retention ratios of large mammals (it apparently has something to do with a favorable amount of surface to volume), citing as examples many of the Arctic and Antarctic species and finishing up with the special adaptations of the bloodhound (we are rather well padded, and basically as long as there is scent to follow we are incapable of noticing much of anything-- from the state of the weather to the commands of our humans). I have observed that people seldom bring up the subject twice to her. (“Run! There’s the crazy woman with the bloodhound and the heat retention equations! She might make us do algebra!”) Personally, my strategy is to visit my hero Balto who is also conspicuously coatless.

Anyway, all this preoccupation with frigid conditions is about to change (much to the chagrin of Elizabeth who has been accumulating a wardrobe better suited to polar exploration than to walking me in the park) as we are about to get excessively warm weather. This means there will be even more tourists for me to meet and greet and have my picture taken with. Now that I am officially going to Westminster my humans cannot resist impressing all the tourists with this bit of information (even the ones who don’t speak English and the ones who somehow think I am going to London to advise the Prime Minister; “Wow when we were in New York we met a Hound so smart that he has been summoned to Westminster to teach the English how to dominate the world!”). As we know when people visit New York they expect to meet celebrities, so the flash bulbs pop when I am around. The other thing that I find is that being a show dog is a lot like going to Harvard—people imbue you with all kinds of positive attributes that you don’t necessarily deserve. So when people hear I am a show dog I am suddenly transformed in their eyes into a paragon of obedient well behaved houndly virtue. And the great thing is, that I garner all this admiration without any of the inconvenience of having to be actually obedient or well behaved. Which in my case is just as well.

Of course, all this fame has its dark side (no I have not gotten the neighbor’s dog pregnant nor am I off to rehab either)—in preparation for my appearance at Westminster (the dog show, not the Palace or the Abbey) I am cavaletti’d every evening. Now being cavalleti'd is pretty awful. First off, it means I have to abandon the pace and trot (although if the distance between the poles isn’t exact, I have figured out a way to pace anyway, causing wails of “How can Wimsey pace through the cavalettis. It’s impossible!” Well, not if you are Wimsey). Then to add insult to injury, the string around my neck is tugged and to emphasize what a happy occasion this is, Elizabeth squeals “Wimsey, let’s go” as if something really pleasant is about to happen-- like the sudden materialization of a pile of dirty laundry. Of course the string itself has its advantages because when I decide to pace off and sniff a tree, Elizabeth has to follow, shrieking for help. And when passing dogs appear, my ladies have to fling themselves on top of me to prevent me from pacing over to say “hi”.

And the human obsession with cavalettis doesn’t end when we go home either. Since there are actually only four proper ones that have been borrowed, both Maria and Elizabeth scour their apartments for anything remotely tube shaped that can be used to create some more. Tube shaped objects have suddenly become very exciting to them (you cannot believe how thrilled Elizabeth was when she found large rolls of old Christmas wrapping paper in her closet—it is not for nothing that we hounds subscribe to the belief that humans are somewhat feeble minded; any species that can get that worked up over cardboard tubes cannot really be taken seriously). But these faux cavalettis are kind of exciting to me as well, as I like to chew on them and getting me to trot over them rather than play with them is quite a challenge for a playful, zesty Hound like myself.

Anyway, January, in addition to officially being Cavaletti Month (“It’s January: have you Cavaletti’d Your Hound Today?”) is also the month of both Maria’s and Elizabeth’s birthdays. Now Maria is sensibly staying home and celebrating by taking care of me, but Elizabeth is thinking of sneaking off to Paris for a few days. If so she will undoubtedly require the services of that foremost exponent of French language and culture: Monsieur le Hound.

Learn French the Monsieur le Hound Way!

Monsieur le Hound: Bonjour classe.

Classe: Bonjour Monsieur le Hound

Monsieur le Hound: Avez-vous poopé ce matin?

Classe: Oui Monsieur le Hound, nous avons poope.

Monsieur le Hound: Et ce poop, c’est beau comme un sausage ou mushy comme le soft serve ice cream?

Classe: C’est tres beau, Monsieur le Hound, dur et firme.

Monsieur le Hound: Tres bien. Est-que vous avez fait le peepee sur Le Tour Eiffel.

Classe: Mais oui Monsieur le Hound; nous avons fait le peepee sur tous les monuments de Paris!

Monsieur le Hound: Tres bien. Ecoutez: Lecon 1

Au Restaurant:

Monsieur et son Hound: Vous avez la place pour une personne et un Hound.

Maitre d: Bien sur! Votre Hound est tres beau.

Monsieur: Merci.

Maitre d’: Voila! Un bifsteak pour votre aimable Hound.
Monsieur: Merci.

Maitre d: Voila une bouteille de Perrier pour votre Hound magnifique.

Monsieur: Merci.

Maitre d’: Il est comfortable, votre superb Hound?

Monsieur: Oui, merci.

Maitre d’: Peut-etre votre Hound extraordinaire desire une tarte pour dessert?

Monsieur: Oui. Le Hound aime bien les tartes.

Maitre d: C’est mon plaisir de servir ce Hound merveilleux!

Anyway, I am hoping that Elizabeth does not go flying off somewhere (although it would mean a respite from those dreaded cavalettis).

Well it’s time again for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. This week, in honor of M. le Hound we travel to Paris via the eyes of Renoir: Boating on the Seine (1875, Pierre-August Renoir, National Gallery, London). Renoir was one of the original impressionists—those artists who hoped to capture nature on the canvas by painting outdoors with loose brush strokes. In this painting the artist uses the complementary colors of blue and orange to bring out the intensity of both. But this boat appears unbalanced somehow—both figures are skewed to the right See how much better the painting looks and how much more nature is captured with the addition of a large Hound who is also enjoying an outing on the river. Wimsey Boating on the Seine.

OK, I am off to hunt some cavalettis (the only good cavalettis is a dead cavaletti). And if you happen to turn on The Apprentice this week you will see the episode that I participated in—you may catch a brief glimpse of me or even better yet hear me baying in the background (I was considered for the task by the men’s team. But not chosen. Can’t imagine why).

Until next time,

Wimsey, a Hound for all seasons